The Power and Politics of Program Management
Defense Systems Management School Fort Belvoir United States
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In his seminal book on leadership, aptly if not imaginatively entitled Leadership, Peter Northouse defines leadership as the process whereby an individual influences a group of individuals to achieve a common goal. Influence, in this definition, is the mechanism by which leaders get things done. But how does a leader gain the ability to influence others What, in other words, is the engine that drives influence The answer, of course, is power. Much as a motor requires electricity and an engine requires fuel to get work done, the leader must also have a source of power to make things happen. Like electricity and fuel, a leaders power is simply an enabler. In and of itself, power is neither good nor evil. Only the way power is used by the leader gives it moral and ethical dimensions. The most obvious power source is based on ones position within an organization and the authority given that position. In a program office, for example, the program manager hasa primary source of power based on his or her position and authority as the leader of the program team. In that capacity, the PM has authority to make decisions with regard to the program and the team, has the ability to garner and expend resources, and has access to important external stakeholdersand decision makers.